Don’t let this happen to you.


In your own home, this would be merely annoying.

In an installation where the thermostats are hard to get to, this would be very annoying. (I once had to change batteries on some that were 30 feet in the air!)

In a transmitter site, this is EPIC FAIL!!!

I was alerted to this problem by hearing the cooling fans in a large shared equipment room (the same one that awful Sprint equipment is in!) spooling up for takeoff.

There are two HVAC units in there, both had the same digital thermostats with the same dead batteries. Room temperature was at 98 and quickly rising.

Always insist on line powered thermostats for installations like this!!!

The MotoTRBO chirp

Motorola XPR6550

In case you’re curious, that four tone chirp your MotoTRBO radio emits as a talk permit tone is G6, C6, G6, E6; that’s 1569, 1046, 1569, 1317 hz. Each tone sounds for 40mSec with no silence between.

I’d heard that you can customize it on Hytera DMR radios, so if you want them to all sound alike, there you go.

Here, just throw your laundry in the TIME MACHINE

I was waiting for a very long traffic signal to let me cross the street when I heard some really loud washing machine sounds from an open air laundromat a few hundred feet away. Loud. Old school.


Read more “Here, just throw your laundry in the TIME MACHINE”

YAFULC, Yet Another Fucking ‘Urban Lifestyle Center’

Okay, stand back, this is a session of “Things That Piss Me Off”.

The indoor shopping mall was wildly popular at one time. It was convenient, it protected shoppers from inclement weather, but then it at some point felt dated, I suppose. What is the logical progression from something that’s practical, comfortable, reasonably accessible, and works well for most? Why, just take away all the covering, all the parking, all of the amenities and creature comforts, the rest rooms, the food court, and just build this concrete canyon fake “main street” with about ten parking spaces that you have to wait in line for and/or a $15 valet service.

Sounds like a great plan, right?


So the replacement is the “Urban Lifestyle Center”, and I’ve coined a really terrible word for the terrible little things: YAFULC. Yet Another Fucking Urban Lifestyle Center. This article will have no original photographs because you could not even pay me enough to visit YAFULC. Believe me, they are all the same, and they are all AWFUL. You’re missing nothing.

Typical features of YAFULC:

The Shops Pembroke GardensParking and Transit: The first thing you will notice is that One Does Not Simply Walk Into YAFULC. Such centers are usually constructed in areas that are isolated behind one, or an intersection of two, enormous arterial roads that feature no pedestrian or mass transit access. They’re pretty much just plunked down wherever there was a bunch of cheap land available.

As you drive towards YAFULC you will usually be funneled down from a massive delta of entrance lanes into what looks like a small town’s downtown main street. However, unlike a small town, you will be sharing a small two lane thoroughfare with diagonal space on-street parking with about eight hundred sport-futility vehicles. Don’t be surprised if you get stuck in the entrance for half an hour while your exhaust and that of everyone else trapped there with you slowly gasses the shoppers — this is just part of the YAFULC experience.

Finally, you will hit a traffic circle with a sign directing you to parking. This will lead you to a very small lot that is completely full. In this case, whoever has the faster car wins in the hilarious race to dive for a parking space while trying not to mow down TOO MANY pedestrians.

Some versions of YAFULC feature higher capacity parking garages. These are universally arranged to be horrible puzzles, with tiny blind turns, entire floors reserved exclusively for certain businesses, or weird stretches of parking spaces that have been leased out to valet parking or auto detailing services. Don’t expect to find a space in the garage.

Usually there will also be a valet parking stand, where you can pay about $15 to have your car parked…… somewhere. There’s usually an hour’s worth of line to get to the valet parking stand, so who knows if they even do anything. Maybe they just take $15 from the first person who shows up and then just sit there all day?

Stores: Believe me, when I said you’re missing nothing… Okay, compare it this way. Do you have a Simon group mall nearby? The Simon mall has exactly the same national brand retailers that YAFULC does….. except with available parking, easy access, and you don’t get baked, frozen, rained on, or gassed with car exhaust as soon as you step out of a store. There are NO independent small businesses in YAFULC. This is almost universal.

Restaurants: You didn’t come here for the food, did you? Well on the off chance you were silly enough to do so…. Common fare at YAFULC includes a variety of overpriced national chains, but once in a blue moon, an indepdently owned restaurant does sneak in… usually a bizarre half-assed Asian fusion menu kind of place.

kendallvillagecenterCommon area: Open sidewalks are the norm here, with no shade, tree cover, or other amenities. Walking between businesses, you are always faced with the possibility of someone smashing you against the wall of the Chuck E. Cheese because they put their minivan in drive instead of reverse before jamming the gas pedal flat to the firewall. Some of the stores may have awnings but these are only there to break up the concrete monotony a bit – they provide maybe two inches of coverage off the building wall, if even.

Somewhere in there, located in a niche on the side of one of the buildings, there might be a restroom. Good luck finding it, I guess. I think this is just evidence that YAFULC was not designed for humans – robots don’t poop, or do they?

Typical YAFULC infections in the South Florida area include Kendall Village Center in Miami-Dade, The Shops at Pembroke Gardens, Boca Raton’s Mizner Park (which was originally a perfectly legit mixed use development before morphing into YAFULC), and Cypress Creek Town Center.

A special thanks goes out to developer Michael Swerdlow for creating Oakwood Plaza which is a hybrid “power center”/YAFULC, and has been easily the least successful retail development of all time; it consists of box stores and little strip mall buildings separated with giant parking lot spaces. It has been such a washout that last I heard, the management was considering charging a $4 toll for access to it to recoup some of their expenses. Let us never make this mistake again. Actually, the biggest mistake was made by the owners of Atlantis in closing down and selling the site to Swerdlow after Hurricane Andrew… they were not that heavily damaged!

Midway Mall / Mall of the Americas, midway to retail ghost

Located near the interchange of the Palmetto Expressway and the 836, southwest of Miami International Airport and minutes* from the busiest Walmart in the United States, this 1970 mall, originally known as the Midway Mall, is still just kinda hanging on. It was renamed to Mall of the Americas in 1987 and redecorated after it started dying for the first time. I recall it at least having a very active food court area around 2004. TigerDirect first moved in somewhere in the early 2000s with a small cramped outlet store and offices in a space that’s now a Ross store, accessible only from behind the mall (you kind of just had to KNOW it was there).

The headquarters of Systemax, parent company to TigerDirect and CompUSA, is located within former anchor space of the mall, as is the TigerDirect outlet store. (TigerDirect appears to be cutting ties with the old CompUSA name, as they’ve let the domain go to squatters.)

Yes, this is the same place where some lady set herself on fire as she walked through the mall. Look carefully in some places near the southern entrance and you can actually still see soot stains on ceiling tiles. A lot of stores at that time were very small family run businesses and the incident freaked out some of the owners, prompting them to leave. The later economic crash in 2008-2009 didn’t help either. It kind of looks like there was some slight effort made to bring in national chain businesses, but it hasn’t been very successful. It looks as though the AMC theater hasn’t been open for business for a while after closing abruptly… power is still on to point of sale machines, but the movie posters are old and the whole place has lost that popcorn smell!

Current tenants include a Radio Shack store which is an outlet store; they tend to have stuff that none of the other stores in the Miami area still stock. There’s also a dollar store (textbook sign you’ve stepped into a dead mall) and a barber shop, and a fairly large store location behind the food court is now occupied by a Department of Motor Vehicles office. I think it USED TO be a Marshalls.

Will this mall survive? Who knows. It’s down the road from the busier Dolphin Mall and Miami International Mall, but has always had its regular visitors. It’s also located in a high density residential area. Parking is a major hassle, but it’s a transit hub where several bus routes intersect including 87, 11, 24, and 7 (oops, this one’s also known as Cellblock 7 among Miami-Dade Transit drivers). I could see it perhaps working as an indoor flea market – this worked with resounding success for the Festival Flea Market Mall. Just don’t turn it into a “power strip” or YAFULC, and I’ll be happy.